Monday, June 18, 2007

Stolen idea: Separated at birth?

In this post there was a a picture of a (physical) chemist with the question 'Do you recognized the guy?' Ashutosh gave an aswer that provided an idea for this post.

One in ten thousand had two nice nonsense posts called Separated at birth? (All non-nonsense posts are quite nice as well!) So here is my 'Separated at birth?'.
Paul Ehrenfest

Petrus Josephus Wilhelmus Debije (Peter Debeye)

So the guy was Debije (who, later, changed his name to debye). One of the great early Dutch Nobel prize winners (Van 't Hoff, Van der Waals, Lorentz, Zeeman, Kamerlingh-Onnes). This picture is a frame from the video of the famous fifth Solvay conference. Many attendees were or became Nobel prize winners (this conference is probably famous because of the video).

There seems to be a discussion going on in the Netherlands about Debye. He was director of the physics section of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute (in that time he (co)fouded the Max Plack institue) untill 1939, and it is said he actively participated in the removal of Jews from the German scientific community.

Many things have been said about this period of his career.

'It's a shame he worked for the Nazi's!'
'He had to because of the German laws!'
'He helped Jews (like Lise Meitner) to escape Germany!'
and so on and so on....

I don't know the true story. One thing is clear: he was not a murderer but he was a great chemist. Let those silly Dutch guys have their discussion about whether the 'Debye Institute' must be called 'Former Debeye Institute' as it is done now. I don't care (never been there), I'm sure Debye doesn't care. (who cares when he's dead?)

And now for something completely different... (I already spoke about stamps a while ago.)

I understand that there is a Dutch stamp with Debye on it.

Why is there a Debye stamp from Ghana?


Ashutosh said...

Oopsy daisy...but you have to admit that the resemblance is uncanny! Also, I fell for it because I know that Einstein and Ehrenfest were great friends.
And you are quite right about Debye...I don't really care too who he collaborated with. His contributions to chemistry and extremely fundamental and timeless.

synthetic environment said...

Wow, you're quick.

I'm not sure either. Someone who knew Debye said that it was him. Comparing clear pictures of the conference did not give exclusion.Maybe the picture is before the separation.

So, Oopsy daisy... I might be wrong and you may be right. Just decided to post it anyway.

See next post.

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